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Clockwise or anti-clockwise over Cho La pass?

January 6, 2024

Clockwise or anti-clockwise over Cho La pass?

Table of Content

  1. Overview of Cho La pass and trekking significance
  2. Benefits of Clockwise vs. Anti-clockwise routes
  3. Key factors influencing your choice
  4. Insights from trekkers on both routes
  5. Preparation and gear recommendations
  6. Awareness of potential difficulties on each route
  7. Conclusion

Overview of Cho La pass and trekking significance

Cho La Pass, cradled in the majestic Himalayas of Nepal, serves as a crucial traverse connecting Everest Base Camp to the enchanting Gokyo Valley. This trek is a mesmerizing exploration of natural wonders, where trekkers navigate through towering peaks, pristine glacial lakes, and quaint Sherpa villages. Along ancient trails, monasteries offer cultural insights into the Sherpa way of life, adding depth to the journey. The pass itself demands resilience, with a challenging ascent and descent that reward adventurers with unparalleled panoramic vistas.

Beyond the physical feat, Cho La Pass embodies the spirit of high-altitude trekking, encapsulating the delicate balance between nature’s grandeur and the rich cultural heritage of the region. Each step unveils a tapestry of landscapes, from snow-capped summits to vibrant valleys, creating an immersive experience that lingers in the hearts of those who dare to traverse its path. Cho La Pass isn’t just a geographical crossing; it’s a profound journey blending adventure, culture, and awe-inspiring vistas.

Benefits of Clockwise vs. Anti-clockwise routes

Embarking on the Chola Pass trek in the Everest region is a journey filled with breathtaking landscapes, challenging ascents, and the thrill of reaching the base of the world’s tallest peak. As someone who has guided trekkers through this mesmerizing route since 2004, I’ve come to appreciate the nuances of choosing between the clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.

One of the key advantages of opting for the anti-clockwise route is the strategic acclimatization plan. Beginning the trek from Everest Base Camp (EBC) allows trekkers to gradually adapt to the increasing altitude, with essential rest days in Namche and Dingboche. This meticulous acclimatization minimizes the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and ensures a smoother transition as the journey progresses.

The ascent from EBC to Gokyo through Chola Pass holds its own charm when approached anti-clockwise. Trekkers are treated to an awe-inspiring panorama, with the grandeur of Everest and the surrounding peaks unfolding before them. This direction offers a more gradual altitude gain, making the trek less strenuous and more enjoyable.

An added perk of the anti-clockwise approach is the chance to experience Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar early in the trek. Standing at the base of the world’s tallest peak and witnessing the sunrise from Kala Patthar are unforgettable moments that mark the beginning of an adventure filled with natural wonders.

Practically speaking, the anti-clockwise route provides flexibility in case of unforeseen circumstances. If health issues arise after reaching Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar, trekkers have the option to skip the Gokyo side of the trek. This adaptability is crucial for ensuring the well-being of participants and allows them to customize their journey based on their physical condition.

While some articles may argue for the clockwise route, my years of guiding experience affirm that the anti-clockwise direction is more manageable and rewarding. The ascent from Gokyo to Everest Base Camp through Chola Pass is acknowledged as more challenging, and starting from EBC eases trekkers into the demands of the trail.

In essence, the Chola Pass trek offers an unparalleled adventure, and choosing the anti-clockwise route from Everest Base Camp is a strategic decision that enhances the overall trekking experience. As the sun sets over the majestic peaks and the trails unfold, each step becomes a testament to the remarkable beauty of the Everest region.

Key factors influencing your choice

Choosing the right direction for the Chola Pass trek in the Everest region involves considering several key factors to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. One crucial element is acclimatization. Starting the trek from Everest Base Camp (EBC) allows trekkers to adapt gradually to the increasing altitude, reducing the risk of altitude-related issues like Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). The inclusion of rest days in Namche and Dingboche during the initial phase helps the body acclimate to higher elevations.

The topography and ascent difficulty also play a vital role in decision-making. Opting for the anti-clockwise route, starting from EBC, provides a more gradual and manageable ascent from Gokyo to Chola Pass. This direction is considered less strenuous, making it suitable for trekkers who may be less experienced or prefer a more moderate challenge.

Mt. Pumori view from Gorakshep

Another influencing factor is the breathtaking scenery. Beginning the trek from EBC allows trekkers to witness iconic views early on, with Everest and its neighboring peaks gracing the landscape. Experiencing these awe-inspiring moments at the start of the journey sets a positive tone and creates lasting memories.

Flexibility is a key consideration as well. If health issues arise after reaching Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar, trekkers following the anti-clockwise route have the option to skip the Gokyo side of the trek. This adaptability ensures that participants can prioritize their well-being and adjust the itinerary accordingly.

Insights from trekkers on both routes

Trekkers who have ventured through both clockwise and anti-clockwise routes to Chola Pass in the Everest region share valuable insights. Those favoring the anti-clockwise direction praise the gradual acclimatization from Everest Base Camp (EBC), minimizing altitude-related challenges. They highlight the breathtaking scenery at the onset, with Everest and Kala Patthar views creating an unforgettable start. However, some trekkers opting for the clockwise route appreciate the challenge of ascending from Gokyo to EBC through Chola Pass, relishing the tougher terrain. Both groups acknowledge the flexibility of the anti-clockwise route in case of health issues, emphasizing the importance of adaptability in the demanding Himalayan landscape.

Preparation and Gear Recommendations

  • Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with ankle support
  • Moisture-wicking socks
  • Layered clothing for temperature regulation
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket and pants
  • Thermal base layers for warmth
  • Comfortable, adjustable backpack (40-50 liters)
  • Warm sleeping bag suitable for cold temperatures
  • UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Wide-brimmed hat or cap
  • Beanie or hat for warmth
  • Lightweight, waterproof gloves
  • Adjustable trekking poles
  • Detailed trekking map and compass
  • First aid kit with essentials and personal medications
  • Water purification tablets or filtration system
  • Crampons and ice axe (depending on season)
  • Sunscreen with high SPF
  • Lip balm with UV protection
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Valid identification and necessary permits

Awareness of potential difficulties on each route

Clockwise Route: Lukla to Gokyo, then to Everest Base Camp via Chola Pass

EBC trek in October and November

Way to Gorakshep from Lobuche

Clockwise Route: Lukla to Gokyo, then to Everest Base Camp via Chola Pass

Guide and Group Safety for Gokyo: Begin your journey from Lukla to Gokyo and then to Everest Base Camp via Chola Pass. Ensure you have a guide for the Gokyo leg of the trek. Traveling with a group adds an extra layer of safety.

Early Departure from Gokyo: When trekking from Gokyo towards Everest Base Camp through Chola Pass, leave early in the morning. This allows you to tackle challenging sections in optimal weather conditions.

Chola Pass and Gokyo Lakes: Be prepared for the ascent and descent over Chola Pass, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Gokyo Lakes. Take time to acclimate properly and appreciate the unique landscapes.

Pack Lunch for Chola Pass: Just like the clockwise route, ensure you pack lunch for the trek over Chola Pass, as there are no tea houses along the route until Dzongla.

Safety Gear: Carry essential safety gear, including crampons for icy sections and oximeters to monitor your oxygen levels. This is crucial, especially in high-altitude areas.

Anticlockwise Route: Lukla to Everest Base Camp via Chola Pass, then to Gokyo

Gokyo and Renjola pass trek-Eveesr trek in Nepal

View of Gokyo Lake and Everest Himalaya from Gokyo Ri

Guide for Chola Pass Section: If you are taking the anticlockwise route, hiring a guide specifically for the Chola Pass section is highly recommended. They can guide you through the challenging terrain and ensure a safe journey.

Early Start from Thagnak: Start early in the morning from Thagnak when heading towards Chola Pass. Beginning early helps in navigating the steep sections and potentially challenging weather.

Group Trekking for Safety: Trek in a group for added safety, especially during the isolated sections of the trail. Having fellow trekkers provides support and assistance.

Steep Climb to Chola Top: Exercise caution during the last stretch while climbing to Chola Pass top. The steep ascent requires careful navigation.

Enjoy Gokyo Lakes: After crossing Chola Pass, take time to appreciate the beauty of the Gokyo Lakes. Ensure proper acclimatization before continuing your trek.

Pack Lunch for the Journey: Pack lunch for the day, as there are limited tea houses along the route until Dzongla, similar to the clockwise route.

These route-specific tips should help you plan and execute your trek in either direction, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience in the Everest region.


In conclusion, the choice between trekking clockwise or anti-clockwise over Cho La pass ultimately depends on various factors such as your physical fitness, group size, and the experience of your guide. While anti-clockwise is generally considered a better route, offering a more gradual ascent, it’s important to assess your own capabilities and preferences. Both directions have their advantages, and the decision should be tailored to individual circumstances. Be sure to consider the overall trekking experience, taking into account factors like acclimatization, scenery, and logistical ease. Ultimately, make an informed decision based on your unique situation to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey over Cho La pass.

You might find the following information beneficial as you prepare for your trekking adventure in Nepal.

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